Twisted Pairs

Twisted Pairs is a party game, indeed it is. You need at least 4 players. But it is clearly of the more-the-merrier type.

No, it’s not charades. I can see why you’d think it’s like charades – you’re trying to get people to guess something that you know (hopefully). And you’re performing, more or less. Except it’s not acting. It’s spelling. I mean, what you’re doing is spelling out a word or several words. Not with words, naturally. But with your bodies. Did I say “bodies”? As in more than one body? Indeed I did. As in two bodies. So, to make, for example, the letter “H,” you and your partner might be standing facing each other, holding your arms down at your sides, but bending your elbows and holding hands, like the cross-bar of the “H” – know what I mean?

Which, of course, is the big question for everyone else – that is, do they know what letter you mean. Because as soon as someone does know that letter, or thinks she knows that letter, or thinks she wants everyone else to think she knows that letter, she simply says something like “got it.” And then the two letter-makers go on to make the next letter. Got it? And on and on until someone guesses correctly, getting, so to speak, the point. As for those who didn’t “get it,” well, they’re still very much in the game, guessing away at the next and the next letters, hoping to fill in the blanks, in retrospect. And when someone correctly yells out the entire phrase, then there’s the race to be first to shout out the bonus answer and get a richly deserved for bonus point. And so can the spellers.

No, of course not, it’s definitely not Twister, though you and your partner are twisting around each other’s bodies in some bizarre, Twister-like ways. And it clearly has nothing to do with Trivial Pursuit either, unless the spinner happens to land on the Trivia Question. We’ll talk about that later. But there’s no Pursuit going on. Unless you count the pursuit of laughterness, which is just about what this game is all about.

The stuff of the game includes a box of cards. There are two sets of cards – one for questions relating to Pre-1990, the other, Post- (a thoughtful distinction for the younger player, as well as for those with short attention spans). Each card contains one of 5 different categories, 4 of which result in a word or phrase that the Spellers attempt to convey, bodily, letter-by-letter. The categories (“famous character,” “famous quote,” “song title,” “song lyric”) help the rest of the party figure out what the spellers are spelling. The fifth category is the Trivia Question. Here, the spellers are given only the question, and must rely on their collective wit to spell out the correct answer (written on the back of the card). And, should their wit be not well informed, well, at least it was fun watching them try.

All of which to say there are many levels of mental and physical calisthenics, combined with ongoingly merry mayhem resulting in an experience that is clearly Major FUN. Everyone involved, everyone thinking hard, everyone challenged at almost every level, and, surprisingly often, everyone laughing. Do you still need to know why we recommend this game with such enthusiasm? As the designers so pithily inquire: “do we have to spell it out for you?”

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